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Obama: U.S. troops won't be on Syria's 'front lines'

By Amy R. Connolly
Obama: U.S. troops won't be on Syria's 'front lines'
President Obama, in an interview with NBC Nightly News, said United States special operations forces in Syria will not be "on the front lines" in the fight against the Islamic State militant group. Pool photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- President Obama said U.S. special operations forces will not be "on the front lines" in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State militant group.

Obama, speaking with NBC News, said the deployment does not violate his pledge not to put "boots on the ground" in Syria to combat the group also known as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS.

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"We are not putting U.S. troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL," he told NBC Nightly News on Monday, as reported by The Hill.

"I've been consistent throughout that we are not going to be fighting, like we did in Iraq, with battalions and occupations," he said, in his first public address on the topic since the deployment was announced Friday. "That doesn't solve the problem."

The escalation in involvement in Syria comes at a time when Russia is conducting a bombing campaign to boost President Bashar al-Assad against opposition forces. Fewer than 50 troops will assist, train and advise local forces fighting extremists on the ground, the White House said.

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Obama said the decision to send troops is not a change in strategy. American forces will remain in Syria for an undefined amount of time.

"Keep in mind that we have run special ops already and really this is just an extension of what we are continuing to do," he said.

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